Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Romans Against the World (hypothetical)

We play a set of Home Rules for Ancients. One of the guys in the club wrote the rules and painted the first 6 armies before we played a single game. They are relatively easy to play rules but they do capture the idea of all the different troop and weapon types of the long ancient period. Another member of the club recently raised two Roman legions, early Imperial. By a misunderstanding he raised them at about double strength of any of the original armies. One Friday in early October 2013 we decided to through a mess of troops, purely non-historical, at the two legions to see what mass would be necessary for an even fight. We didn't empty enough boxes!

The set-up was simple. One Roman legion (XX) would attack straight at a big Numidian army that was set up and defending a town. The second Roman legion (VIIII) was coming to support but would be surprised by an army of Helvetians/Gauls falling on one flank and a Persian army falling on the other.

This was the Numidians first time on the table. The battle went much as one would expect with the Roman heavy infantry inexorably pushing back the lighter but more numerous Africans. Unfortunately for the Numidians, their cavalry did not perform up to historical standards and were also pushed back.

Whereas the XX and the Numidians were battling over fairly even and clear terrain, the approaching VIIII Legion had some rough terrain to march through. It had the further complication of dual Consuls having been appointed to command and they were bickering over the distribution of the various ancillary units.

The (completely ahistorical) allies struck simultaneously from each side of the Roman relief column. Unfortunately for the attackers they were discovered far enough away from the column by scout dogs that the VIIII was able to deploy to meet the concentric attacks.

On the Roman right, the associated warbands of the Helvetian tribes struck. Their cavalry and chariots heading off the column, cutting them off from the city. Unfortunately for the alpine tribes, this left them overextended and they were meticulously pummeled by the Roman cohorts.

The Persians struck the Roman left and had better initial success. Their massive tower elephants pushed back a veteran cohort and their hoplites engaged in a stand-up slaughter with two more cohorts. However, there was just not enough weight to the Persian attack and it withered under the midday sun.

The end of the game found the relieving VIIII laagered comfortably, watching the Persians and Helvetians trail away while the smoke began to rise from the distant city.

One final, humorous anecdote. We have a single unit of hapless mercenaries which are often added to one army in our ancients games. This hapless unit is painted as Thracian medium infantry from the period of Alexander. It is understrength, having only 12 figures (most medium infantry being 16 or 18) and it is rated D class (one of very few to have this least desirable rating). In this game, however, they had their moment of glory as, unopposed, they marched up to a Roman battery of scorpions and charged!

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